Kara Walker Quotes

  • A lot of what I was wanting to do in my work and what I have been doing has been about the unexpected... that unexpected situation of wanting to be the heroine and yet wanting to kill the heroine at the same time.
  • My work is really abject and self-effacing sometimes. I mean, it's big and overwrought, but it's just paper dolls, and it's kind of silly.
  • To be a truly conscientious artist, you have to look at what's not working and challenge it. You riff on things.
  • I don't think that my work is very moralistic - at least, I try to avoid that. I grew up with that sermonising tendency, and I don't think visual work operates like that.
  • I have no interest in making a work that doesn't elicit a feeling.
  • I really love to make sweeping historical gestures that are like little illustrations of novels.
  • I trust my hand. If I go into a space with a roll of paper, I can make a work, some kind of work, and feel pretty satisfied.
  • I never learned how to be adequately black. I never learned how to be black at all.
  • I knew I wanted to be an artist, but I didn't really know what it was I wanted to say.
  • I am performing this role of the artist and this role of the 'negress' coming into a white-box institution. It's kind of a self-appointed role: the self-designated negress.
  • I grew up partially around Stone Mountain, Georgia, and in that part of the country, there was always this aura of mythology and palpable sense of otherness about being a Southerner.
  • I'm a sponge for historical images of black people and black history on film.
  • There is something very strange and unsettling for me about making a work that doesn't fit with what's the norm or what's acceptable. There's something both liberating about it and challenging. I can imagine it doing more harm than good.
  • Once you open up the Pandora's box of race and gender... you're never done.
  • The promise of any artwork is that it can hold us - viewer and maker - in a conflicted or contestable space, without real-world injury or loss.
  • I don't know how much I believe in redemptive stories, even though people want them and strive for them.
  • Humor's always been the problem of my work, hasn't it? When working, I feel satisfied when I surprise myself. And when I surprise myself, I wind up laughing.
  • The illusion is that most of my work is simply about past events: a point in history and nothing else.
  • I'm fascinated with the stories that we tell. Real histories become fantasies and fairy tales, morality tales and fables. There's something interesting and funny and perverse about the way fairytale sometimes passes for history, for truth.
  • Challenging and highlighting abusive power dynamics in our culture is my goal; replicating them is not.